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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, March 22, 2006

East must deal with OIA champ Kailua

By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer

Kailua might be the defending O'ahu Interscholastic Association baseball champion, but to its coach the Surfriders don't look it.

"We lost a lot from last year," Kailua coach Corey Ishigo said. "We have no leadership. We're not playing as a team."

At least for now.

Despite winning five of the last six OIA titles, the Surfriders have only two division crowns during that span. While they may not start off strong, they know how to finish. That's what makes them contenders, along with Castle, Kaiser, Kalani, Moanalua and Roosevelt, for the top six spots to qualify for postseason.

The East starts play today, weather permitting.

"There's nothing flashy about Kailua," Moanalua coach Scott Yamada said. "But they always find a way to win."

The Surfriders return four starters from last year's team that was runner-up in the state to Punahou. Back are catcher Mike D'Alessio, second baseman Aaron Kunioka, center fielder Preston Nakata and outfielder Keli'i Klobucar.

About half of Kaiser's starters have started since they were freshmen. Back are first-team East all-stars Colby Ho at third base and Scott Uehara in center field. The other two veterans are catcher Jarryd Maeda and shortstop Andy Uehara, Scott's twin.

The Cougars went 10-4-1 in preseason. Coach Peter Ho also will be starting two freshmen.

Moanalua, which lost to Kailua in the OIA championship, lost East Player of the Year Andrew Blomberg to graduation. But Yamada returns fourth-year starter Peter Arakawa at shortstop.

"The big question mark is our pitching," said Yamada, whose team went 4-6 in preseason.

Kalani, which won the East last year, only to get eliminated by Kailua in the quarterfinals, has the pitching, the division's coaches said. Back are right-handers Darren Takemoto and Micah Takahashi, an East first-team selection as a sophomore last season. The Falcons will have a veteran battery with those two and catcher Josh Markwith, a utility first-team East selection.

Castle is strong up the middle with seniors Kyle Kanaeholo and Brandon Kon at short and second, respectively, and catcher David Mohika. The outfield features Corey Paredes, a junior who started as a sophomore.

Roosevelt has a new coach with the promotion of 13-year assistant Craig Arakawa, who inherits an experienced team. Third baseman Nick Wong, second baseman Keoni Manago, first baseman Blake Parado, center fielder Kila Delovio and shortstop Keenan Loo were starters on last year's team that finished fourth in the East, but was eliminated in the first round of playoffs.

Kalaheo is hopeful of getting back to the form that saw the Mustangs make the state tournament in 2003.

"Not too many count us in the equation, but we expect to compete at a high level and make it into the playoffs," Mustangs' assistant J.D. Cox said.

Kahuku, McKinley, Kaimuki and Farrington might find it a struggle. The Bulldogs and Governors are dealing with numbers issues.

"(Preseason) was more like damage control," Bulldogs coach Duke Chinen said. "We were just trying to get guys in to see how we could make things work."


Castle Knights
Coach: Joe Tom Jr.
Players to watch: SS Kyle Kanaeholo, Sr.; 2B Brandon Kon, Sr.; C David Mohika, Sr.; C Lyle Kitagawa, Jr.; OF Corey Paredes, Jr.; RHP Royce Diaz, Jr.; RHP Codey Cabael, Jr.; OF/3B Dallas Olsen, Sr.; 1B Kyle Abasial, Sr.
Need to know: Rain cost the Knights six preseason games and practice time.

Moanalua Na Menehune

Scott Yamada

Players to watch: SS Peter Arakawa, Sr.; 2B Markus Miyashiro, Sr.; CF Trevor Bell, Sr.; OF/LHP Kekoa Lee, Sr.; DH/LHP Mike Amorozo, Sr.

Need to know: Returns starting infield, sans first base, from team that finished second in the OIA tournament.

Roosevelt Rough Riders

Craig Arakawa

Players to watch: RHP David Chow, Sr.; 3B/SS/RHP Nick Wong, Jr.; 2B/RHP Keoni Manago, Jr.; SS Keenan Loo, Sr.; 1B Blake Parado, Sr.; CF Kila Delovio, Sr.; OF Rick Yoshikane, Sr.

Need to know: Arakawa succeeds Kerry Higa, who was promoted to vice principal and by DOE rules, can't coach. Arakawa has been with the program as an assistant for 13 years.

Farrington Governors

Brandon Baniaga

Players to watch: SS/RHP/2B/C Nathan Sardinha, Sr.; C/RHP Brysn Segundo, Jr.; SS/RHP Andrew Ganaban, Jr.

Need to know: Will open with 14 players, but they've had little practice or preseason game experience because of academic priorities.

Kahuku Red Raiders

Steve Van Ness

Players to watch: RHP Keola Kahele, Sr.; C M.J. Sabido, Sr.; 2B/RHP Nick Cooke, Sr.; CF Chico Ramirez, Sr.; RHP/3B Ben Wallace, Sr.; SS Andy Lowe, Sr.; RF Ryan Mancuso, Sr.

Need to know: Red Raiders won't be overpowering with the bats, so they will rely on pitching and defense.

Kailua Surfriders

Corey Ishigo

Players to watch: P/SS Mike D'Alessio, Sr.; 2B Aaron Kunioka, Sr; OF Keli'i Klobucar, Sr.; SS Zachary Akamine, Jr.; CF Preston Nakata, Jr.

Need to know: Despite finishing fifth in the East, the Surfriders won the OIA tournament and finished second in the state.

Kaimuki Bulldogs

Duke Chinen

Players to watch: C/RHP/SS Swaine Seto-Mook, Sr.; C/SS/RHP Darren Muramoto, Jr.; CF/RHP Ikaika Ayers, So.

Need to know: Will start the season with 12 players.

Kaiser Cougars

Peter Ho

Players to watch: 3B/SS/RHP Colby Ho, Sr.; CF Scott Uehara, Sr.; C Jarryd Maeda, Sr; SS/RHP Andy Uehara, Sr.

Need to know: Went 10-4-1 in preseason, winning the Mililani tournament.

Kalaheo Mustangs

Alex Racoma

Players to watch: SS Kainoa Kaehu, Sr.; 3B/RHP Austin Kehrer, Sr.; U Paul Schmeding, Sr.; LF Orrys Williams, Sr.; RF Eric Olson, Sr.; C Dougals Cox, Sr.; CF Alika Ka'anapu, So.; RHP Donovan Correia, Jr.; RHP Talon Wemple, Jr.; RHP Kyle Okumura, Jr.

Need to know: Mustangs have four to five pitchers in the mix as starters and relievers.

Kalani Falcons

Shannon Hirai

Players to watch: SS/RHP Darren Takemoto, Sr.; C Josh Markwith, Sr.; RHP Micah Takahashi, Jr.; OF Ridge Carpenter, Jr.

Need to know: Pitching is strength.

McKinley Tigers

Lester Higa

Players to watch: SS/RHP/OF Devin Goto, Sr.; SS/RHP Ryan Goto, Sr.; 1B/3B Roger Kramer, Jr.

Need to know: Returned yesterday from Las Vegas, where the Tigers went 1-2 against area schools.

Reach Stacy Kaneshiro at skaneshiro@honoluluadvertiser.com.